The game of football is a simple sport and nowhere so at the earliest stage i.e. at the youth level, where a child instinctively knows to put the ball into the net. The so-called football fraternity in India, especially the coaches and ex-footballers tend to worry too much about how successful teams of yesteryear formed and played rather than looking forward and taking the lead from technological advances and modern tools.
Today’s generation doesn’t live in the same era where Indian football legends Chuni Goswami, P.K.Banerjee, Neville D’Souza, or even Krishanu Dey grew up in. In earlier days, the lanes and even by-lanes remained filled with football enthusiasts playing the game. With the change in time, today’s generation may not show the same amount of enthusiasm hitting the fields, but that doesn’t depreciate their passion and excitement towards the game. One should not forget that they have easy access to technology due to greater freedom of expression and exploration online.
The invention of football video games such as EA Sports‘s FIFA, Konami‘s Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), Nordeus’s Top Eleven Football Manager, etc. has given kids pick up the complexities and elaborateness of the sport at a very young age. By the time they are in their pre-teens, they know all about different types of team formation & combination, different footballing terms, player names, and the necessary attributes that make a good player. Among these games with EA Sport’s FIFA, in particular, is arguably the most popular and widely accepted football game across the globe.
Nowadays, modern coaches across Europe, North & South America, and East Asia are taking the help of the FIFA game to train their players. FA has introduced coaching courses which include unconventional methods of teaching football. At Level 2, coaches connect with the social environment of the young players away from the footballing pitch, which includes video games like FIFA.
The gaming technology and its features aid the coaches to connect with their young players easily. The budding players to are in sync with the different terminologies and technicalities due to their easy access to the game. FIFA game shows them the analytical, technical, and tactical side, vividly in a way that was not possible a generation prior. Different gaming modes like ‘Manager Mode’ or an ‘Ultimate Team Mode’, allow a gamer to put the specific players in different positions on the field depending upon their strengths and attributes. A faster player with a better dribbling attribute is usually deployed as a ‘Winger’ whereas a more robust physical player with high stamina and tackling attribute is generally stationed as a ‘Central Defensive Midfielder'(CDM) playing close to the defensive line.
It is a gaming tool that can make a person with zero understanding of the sport to a fairly knowledgeable one (at least theoretically) in regard to its tactics and structure. The Coaches themselves use it for a better understanding of the game, working out different team formations and tactics. Many high-profile coaches across the globe have made the FIFA game mandatory for both their youth football and even for the senior teams. Playing the FIFA game is encouraged worldwide to improve footballers.
Although football in India is constantly challenging cricket in regard to its popularity, still India is yet to make any notable inroads in world football post-independence. But the passion for the game among Indian fans can easily challenge any of the top ten ranked football playing nations. Yet the skepticism and apathy within the Indian football clubs and its management to embrace technological advances is inexcusable and unpardonable. The crux of the matter is rather than underestimating FIFA as a kids game, coaches in India should take advantage of the brilliance of the gaming technology as an easy tool to make the youth learn football. The coaches have to be innovative in their methods which are easily familiar with the kids. Our children are already playing these games, hence we should enthusiastically embrace their knowledge and mold and model them to become better players.